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Think positive for future fisheries
  |  First Published: October 2012



Regular readers of this column will no doubt have noticed the lack of reports for Teewah Beach in recent months. This has been because there hasn't really been anything significant in the way of fish captures to report.

Recreational catches are expected to be very poor during the mullet netting season from May to August with fish generally returning to the surf gutters at the completion of the season and being available through the spring and summer months. Hopefully, we will start to see the change happening soon.

On a brighter note, we have had fabulous conditions prevailing since the completion of the netting season.

Anglers have reported the odd capture over the past month. Your best bet is to walk the beach looking for signs of fish, such as feeding birds, rather than focussing on just one area.

I have had concerns for the Noosa North Shore fishery for some years now with catches steadily declining for recreational and commercial fishers. Of particular note is the total absence of tailor, despite reports of tailor to the south at Stradbroke and Moreton Islands and to the north at Fraser. We are used to tailor bypassing this beach on their way to Fraser during the netting season, but it now seems they are bypassing this beach entirely on their northern and southern migrations.

Fish mightn't be the smartest animals on the planet, but it is well known that they learn to avoid areas where mass mortalities have occurred over a period of time. The question is, are the fish schools still out there and simply avoiding this beach, or is there a lack of surf species generally up and down our coastline?

Fisheries Queensland are adamant that all of our fisheries are sustainable and among the best managed anywhere in the world. Given that inshore fisheries all around the world are collapsing, other than in locations such as Florida and New South Wales where netting bans have been instigated, this is hardly a glowing self reference.

Consecutive State Governments have presented the concern that if regions are closed to netting, where are fresh locally caught fish for the non-fishing public to be derived from? A valid concern, but one which carries little weight when a good proportion of the fish taken from our surf beaches are destined to be bait, pet food or fertiliser. A concern that carries even less weight when it has been demonstrated that net free regions can actually increase the overall inshore commercial catch.

It seems obvious to me that the government is unwilling to spend the money to create the imperative net-free regions for the benefit of all, so there is only one way that net-free regions can be achieved.

Some will argue differently, but a recreational fishing licence is looming as the only option available to ensure the future of our fisheries for current and future generations. I wish there were another way that we could maintain our fisheries without the extra cost burden, but as yet, nobody seems to be able to provide any other realistic option. After all, it is surely better to pay $30 per year and catch fish, than to fish for free and catch next to nothing?

Anglers from the regions around the world that already have a recreational fishing licence are notably the first to agree with this sentiment.

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